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Green, A. (1997). Opening Remarks To A Discussion Of Sexuality In Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:345-350.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:345-350

Opening Remarks To A Discussion Of Sexuality In Contemporary Psychoanalysis

André Green

Reproduction and pleasure

More than ever, sexuality is defined by the separation between the reproductive function assigned to it by evolution and the human pursuit of pleasure in its practice, or indeed by the mutual independence of these two aspects. However, procreation may also entail pleasure, or alternatively unpleasure, whether or not shared. These two points of view set the distinction between biological sexuality and psychosexuality, which constitutes a fundamental duality. The discovery of infantile sexuality has had two consequences: firstly, the observation of erotic manifestations long before puberty and in fact practically from birth (erections in babies) and, secondly, the classification of oral, anal and other activities under the heading of sexuality. After Freud, other authors described further erotogenic zones, including, for instance, the look and the voice (Lacan) and the skin-ego (Anzieu).

The existence of pleasure being recognised from earliest infancy, sexuality may be said to be the ‘pleasure of pleasures’ in the same sense as the prohibition on incest has been deemed the ‘rule of rules’. The link between sexuality and pleasure is surely the foundation of the sexual in psychoanalysis. However, in view of the solidarity of pleasure and unpleasure, we are compelled to see these two entities as a pair of opposites neither of whose terms can be contemplated without the other. Yet the gamut of unpleasure has widened greatly since Freud, with later authors emphasising early developmental manifestations (Klein: psychic pain and threat of annihilation; Winnicott: agonies and fear of breakdown; Bion: dread and catastrophe and so on).

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